Great Yarmouth apprentices gain offshore experience in pioneering link-up between 3sun and ODE

3sun apprentices Zak Brown, Angela Hawthorne andA;ex Armes who have just spent a week offshore in pi

3sun apprentices Zak Brown, Angela Hawthorne andA;ex Armes who have just spent a week offshore in pioneering move aimed at enhancing their training. Steve Jones from ODE and Colin Drewitt from 3sun. Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2014

Two Great Yarmouth-based offshore companies are working together to offer apprentices their first taste of life offshore.

The arrangement between 3sun in Boundary Road and ODE in South Denes Road is significant because it has always been a major hurdle for apprentices to be allowed on to oil and gas platforms due to their lack of experience.

It has led to an initial trial with six 3sun apprentices each spending a week on a North Sea gas platform on a maintenance contract run by ODE.

Steve Jones, operations support contracts manager for ODE which runs operation and maintenance contracts on one manned and three unmanned platforms, said they had developed a good working relationship with 3sun which was their first port of call when they needed extra skilled staff for a contract offshore.

He said: 'There is a shortage of experienced personnel offshore so it makes sense for us to help bring through the next generation of engineers.'

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It was also a valuable opportunity for the young people to see if life offshore was for them.

'For some, it will be their first time in a helicopter and life on a platform is very different, not being able to go home and see friends and family,' he said.

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He said it was understandable why companies had resisted the opportunity in the past to allow inexperienced staff on platforms as it was a potentially dangerous environment to work in with high pressure gas.

'You need to know the processes to go through to do things safely,' he said.

Outside the major oil and gas companies he did not know of any similar scheme to take apprentices offshore.

Colin Drewitt, apprentices' co-ordinator at 3sun, which employs 23 apprentices and has developed a training academy to meet wider offshore skills needs, said: 'The biggest problem we have is getting apprentices out on to platforms without any experience.

'Steve and I got together and we decided this scheme could be a win-win for everyone. I would like to thank ODE for taking this opportunity.'

He said with 3sun having 16 new apprentices arriving shortly from Lowestoft College it was hoped to build on the trial in the future.

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